Anyone familiar with the cult TV shows HR Pufnstuf, Lidsville and Sigmund & the Sea Monsters will probably remember they were born out of the fantastically fertile minds of Sid & Marty Krofft, the US TV producers who entertained kids throughout the 1970s and early 1980s with a host of unique shows featuring wacky costumed creatures and incredibly catchy theme tunes.
One of those shows was the 1974 adventure, Land of the Lost, in which Rick Marshall and his two kids Will and Holly found themselves in a bizarre alternate world after plunging 10,000ft down a waterfall. Despite the cheap special effects and unconvincing men-in-rubber-suit monsters, the show got a bit of cult following and was even remade in the 1990s.
Spiral 35 years later and comic clown Will Ferrell stars as Marshall in a big-screen adaptation that is played strictly for laughs. Anna Friel steps into the role of Holly – now Marshall’s perky assistant – who just so happens to be able to speak a prehistoric dialect even though her own native British tongue slips between cut-glass posh and some unheard of Northern twang; while Ferrell’s real-life pal Danny McBride plays Will – now a trailer trash hick who joins Marshall and Holly on their anything but routine expedition.
The makers of this spoof adventure are obviously big film buffs as Land of the Lost is littered with film and TV references. The production design is stunning, complete with a desert landscape straight out of a Salvador Dali painting, and there’s even the door to The Twilight Zone buried amongst the sand dunes. Also, watch out for the crazy end credits, as the music and titles are an affectionate nod to Escape from the Planet of the Apes.
While the story is predictable – Marshall, Will and Holly try and find a way back to their own world while fighting off a T-Rex and a horde of slimy lizard creatures – Land of the Lost is a wholly enjoyable crowd pleaser.
Thankfully, Friel and McBride get to show off their comedy skills despite Will Ferrell’s over-acting, but the standout performance goes to Jorma Taccone as Chaka. The Saturday Night Live comic is just downright lovable as the clueless talking ape-man who finds a best new buddy in McBride’s redneck nobody.
Land of the Lost really pulls off capturing one of Sid & Marty Krofft’s quirky productions of yesteryear, and I cannot wait to see a big-screen adaptation of HR Pufnstuf, complete with its own catchy theme tune – which I still know the words to – and Johnny Depp as Witchiepoo.
Released 23 November
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